Author Topic: Unequal Gift Giving  (Read 3830 times)

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mbbored

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Unequal Gift Giving
« on: November 18, 2012, 11:50:38 AM »
How do you handle gift giving when people's resources/incomes aren't on the same level? For example, I'm a single grad student living on a very small stipend. In my family, most of us are in school still or underemployed, so we set a limit of $20 for gifts. However, many of my friends are married professionals without children and while I tend to go handmade or in the $25 range for weddings and birthdays, they give me presents that are clearly in the $50 to $100 range. I admit it makes me a little uncomfortable, but they insist that that's their budget for gifts and they want to gift to the best of their ability.

Trellia

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 12:09:26 PM »
I hear you- I just went from a full-time job to part-time at minimum wage. I don't worry about the money spent compared to what it would mean to the person. Ex. buying my brother a videogame that we borrowed from neighbors and loved as children. Finding a book that my mom read over and over in her younger years. Picking up a mini fondue set after a friend raved about a full one at a wedding.

Handmade gifts will be treasured forever, because far more than the money, you're gifting your time, your thoughts and planning. I love and use the beautiful scarf my BF made me one year. There was a cute story on Home Improvement that Wilson shared.

'A boy from a poor family wanted to give a gift to a great teacher. So he walked for two days to the seashore and found a pretty shell. He walked back home for two days and presented the shell with great pleasure to his teacher.

The teacher asked about the significance of it. The boy told him that the journey was part of the gift.'

O'Dell

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 12:39:53 PM »
Sometimes the best gift you can give to someone is to accept their generosity gracefully. Giving in that amount makes them happy for whatever reason, so just go with it. It's perfectly fine for you to keep your gifts to them to what you can afford.

If they were bothered by the inequity, they would scale back with you. So believe them when they say that they want to do it.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Roe

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 01:56:22 PM »
Sometimes the best gift you can give to someone is to accept their generosity gracefully. Giving in that amount makes them happy for whatever reason, so just go with it. It's perfectly fine for you to keep your gifts to them to what you can afford.

If they were bothered by the inequity, they would scale back with you. So believe them when they say that they want to do it.

I absolutely agree!  It's not about what something costs, it's about getting something for someone that you think they will enjoy.  Cost/price shouldn't factor into it, unless it's a gift exchange with a limit like at work.  But with family and friends, it's about the bond and connection, not the price.

25wishes

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 03:25:34 PM »
It is a gift. It does not need to be an equal exchange. Then it would be a barter.

If the people who receive your lower priced gifts are unhappy with them, they can spend less on you next time. But somehow I doubt that will happen.

Thinking like this is one of the reasons I dropped out of the whole "gift giving between adults" thing. We would give my PILs home made food presents for Xmas. They gave us the $10 gift box from Wisconsin Cheeseman. DH's DB and SIL would give them a TV. PILs would give THEM a TV.

bonyk

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 03:44:47 PM »
In my family, you give what you can afford.  Gifts are not equal in price, just in thoughtfulness.   ;D

Last Christmas, I noticed that my much-younger brother had spent quite a bit on my DD.  I considered saying something about it being too much, but then I realized that he wasn't a kid anymore, was gainfully employed, and could afford it now. 

We would give my PILs home made food presents for Xmas. They gave us the $10 gift box from Wisconsin Cheeseman. DH's DB and SIL would give them a TV. PILs would give THEM a TV.


That's definitely not okay, IMO!

Deetee

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 04:29:15 PM »
Sometimes the best gift you can give to someone is to accept their generosity gracefully. Giving in that amount makes them happy for whatever reason, so just go with it. It's perfectly fine for you to keep your gifts to them to what you can afford.

If they were bothered by the inequity, they would scale back with you. So believe them when they say that they want to do it.

This. Or as previously stated, a gift is not a barter. You do not need to exchange equally valued items with people. In fact, that is really boring. (Minor aside: I strongly dislike giftcard. I'll buy them for anyone who wants them, but receiving them has the "taint" of cash with the added issue that I never seem to use them so they sit around and generate guilt.)

Also, homemade gifts rock and if they are food, they rock more.

QueenofAllThings

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 07:04:08 PM »
Bake or cook. Seriously - what's better than a thoughtful gift lovingly prepared?

magician5

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2012, 10:24:58 PM »
A handmade gift may only cost a dollar or two (or thereabouts) in materials, but such a gift, which carries so much care and individuality, is worth a million dollars.
There is no 'way to peace.' Peace is the way.

mbbored

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 12:52:56 AM »
Bake or cook. Seriously - what's better than a thoughtful gift lovingly prepared?

This is what I do, but sometimes it's hard to compare a basket of jams and jellies, which I gave at 3 different weddings this summer, with the bottle of Veuve Clicquot or the antique tea set I received this weekend.

Anyways, thanks for the reassurance. My mother worked so hard to make sure we weren't greedy that sometimes it's hard to receive when I know I can't give back.

CakeEater

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2012, 01:18:45 AM »
To be honest, I would much prefer to receive handmade jam than an antique tea set. Expensive doesn't mean it will be appreciated by the recipient. An antique tea set would collect dust and take up space at my house until I went to the effort at getting rid of it.

And I'm not even sure what your expensive bottle is, but my favourite wine is a very sweet, girly white that costs about $6. I'd be happier with that than a $50 bottle of anything.

In conclusion, don't let it worry you. :)

Shopaholic

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2012, 01:22:28 AM »
A gift is the giver's choice.
If your friends are choosing to spend larger sums on you, this is because they WANT to, and have most likely taken into consideration what they can or cannot give.

I usually give baked goods in a small dish or jar. There is no way I can compete financially with my relatives, so I focus at what I'm good at.

TootsNYC

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2012, 08:21:29 AM »
Sometimes the best gift you can give to someone is to accept their generosity gracefully. Giving in that amount makes them happy for whatever reason, so just go with it. It's perfectly fine for you to keep your gifts to them to what you can afford.

If they were bothered by the inequity, they would scale back with you. So believe them when they say that they want to do it.

I agree with this.
And I absolutely agree that the bond is the point--it is, in fact, the ONLY purpose of presents, to deepen the relationship between the two parties.

I have found over the years that some of the best presents were inexpensive but perfectly picked (yes, even regifting--once I snagged a pitcher from the test-kitchen giveaway shelf because it was the duplicate of one my mom had lovedlovedloved and broken--best gift ever, and sort of more special because it came in such a quirky way).

And I've discovered as well that "who gets the expensive gift" would shift from year to year. One year Mom, the next year DBro2, the next year DSis, the next year Mom, the next year Dad...

But I can totally understand your discomfort with it. And I do think that while the gift is the giver's choice, it can be really, really rude to give a too-generous present.

If you find that the disparity is REALLY bothering you, then I think you are totally within etiquette to explain to these friends that this disparity is interfering with your friendship, and that the friendship is too important to risk in this way. And then ask them to either scale back a bit, or suggest that you only exchange edibles (in which homemade is often far better, so you win), or suggest that you skip presents since you're all grownups.

(And if you ever need to give their kids a present, remember this: A huge, huge box is far more valuable to a little kid than any plastic toy of any sort. And that snagging one from when your landlord replaced the refrigerator is completely kosher.)

LB

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2012, 08:34:39 AM »
I agree that sometimes you have to just remember a gift is a gift and try to forget about what it must cost.

But for the record, OP, I get it.  My FIL is very generous toward me, DH, and our son. We are literally the only three people he buys gifts for. So, his entire gift budget is used on three people, one of whom is his only grandchild. So...yeah.

We have my parents, sister and BIL, grandparents, DH's mom and step dad and two step brothers, FIL, and my cousin's daughter.

So, our exchanges with him tend to be a bit unequal. It helps to see that he truly does not care. He loves whatever we give him, but he's happier that he gets to spend some time with all of us. Especially DS. He thinks that kid hung the moon.

RebeccainGA

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Re: Unequal Gift Giving
« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2012, 09:47:40 AM »
We had a really unequal gift giving dynamic in our family growing up - my grandparents gave huge amounts to mom and dad, which translated into the kids getting part of the big gift, and my grandparents getting some portion of their gift back from my parents. Once we kids were old enough to handle our own money, things got divided directly from the grandparents, but we still felt like we weren't giving them enough.

A few years later, the grandparents had to cut back - stock market and all. Mom and dad and the kids all decided that we could step it up (dad had a good job, kids were both out of college and working).

It ebbs and flows. Maybe in a few years you'll be the graduated, employed and flush one, and they'll be the the new parents struggling, and you'll be giving the more pricy gifts (and likely, giving them to the kids!). Accept it in the spirit it is offered, and thank them graciously, and continue to do what you can, when you can.